Chrisisms: In search of 20 20-somethings

February 13, 2013

By Chris Wachowiak

I’m calling this “Chrisisms.” Is that even a word? A few years ago, my unofficial big brother, Mossy, coined this term “chrisisms”: thoughts, ramblings, insights — whatever comes to mind to paper is a “chrisism.”

Why am I writing a “chrisism” so many years later out of nowhere? Frank Schier, The Rock River Times’ editor and publisher, is the answer.

I ran into Frank at Kryptonite, and, as always, Frank and I got into a quick conversation about things happening, or the lack of things happening, in our downtown and how few people are being accountable.

We discussed how lame people in this town seem to be complaining on Facebook about how this town sucks, or hearing about Rockford Scanner, or how “Rockford Rocked” at one time with annoying Facebook pages about better days having passed, or quickly sharing the stuff that happens in our city on a second-by-second basis. You hardly read about anyone doing crazy, cool, boundary-pushing stunts, ideas or businesses in the younger generation.

So many things are going on in our city, and yet few positive things get shared, and there are some shady things going on from time to time that just don’t sit right that spark up heated dialogs quickly. And then, the challenge from Frank: “Why don’t you write a weekly column, Chris? You’ve never been shy of saying it how you see it.”

Frank believes I may offer some entertainment value, I’m assuming, for you reading this. Time will tell whether I can pull off a weekly column of thoughts escaping my brain to paper, and then if anyone cares to read them.

Wednseday night, after leaving Frank and our conversation at Kryptonite, I made a Facebook comment calling out the 20-somethings who seem to be hiding online rather than in public. I cannot seem to recall some 20-something creating a buzz or making a stir in our community. Where are they? I know they are out there! I’ve met a few of them, and I want to meet more!

So, then I tweeted Isaac Guerrero from the local daily challenging him to follow up his 13 of 2013 people to watch to seek out 20 20-somethings doing something! He told me to wait until next year for the 14 to watch for and, in the meantime, he has other stories he wants to write. OK, well, that answer only annoyed me. Another reason I’m writing today.

I really want to know the future of Rockford’s change out there! IGNITE is the Chamber’s attempt to reach the young professionals, and that’s fine. But I’m looking for the 20-somethings who are wanting to do their own thing — make their own unique mark on their local community, the ones following their passion in spite of elders and peers telling them “it’s stupid” or “no one’s done that.”

If people are not challenging you, odds are you’re not challenging yourself. Our community needs young doers, button-pushers, edge-walkers, artists, boundary-pushers, visionaries, rebels, dreamers and believers. I need them as a (late) 30-something business owner. I need to be challenged and inspired by others as well. Rockford needs them!

So, in the next few weeks, I will be seeking out 20 20-somethings to write about, and I will need help! I will need names, and I would like to bring attention to the next generation of doers, not wishers.

Send me names, help me, and a quick bio about them and what they’re doing, if you know!

My first 20-something next week will be Vince Chiarelli. The 22-year-old doer, who restarted Rockford College Radio and currently runs that, is getting his master’s degree and playing in the Vincent Chiarelli Combo every weekend while also running his third-generation re-opened grandfather’s record label, Vincent Records.

There need to be more Vinces out there! Please tell me about them!

Chris Wachowiak is owner of Kryptonite Bar, 308 W. State St., No. 110, Rockford. He can be reached at

From the Feb. 13-19, 2013, issue


  1. rockforddoessuck

    February 15, 2013 at 11:00 pm

    Rockford really does suck. Too many people enable the local politicians to “keep it in suckland”. If you want rockford to “not suck” vota accordingly for change, and change doesn’t mean voting another old dirty piece of crap in. Just a thought.

  2. bill

    February 16, 2013 at 1:16 am

    Look, times have changed and people dont dont go out drinking and driving anymore and unfortunately there have been a lot of dumbasses that screwed it up for everyone. So dont go blaming the internet and everyone else for the downtown loss. Blame the dumbasses and the laws. I guarantee you this..make a good, safe place to live downtown it will thrive. I think the the problem is nobody feels safe

  3. bill

    February 16, 2013 at 1:58 am

    Unfortuanately times have changed and i feel bad for my kids. I wish they could ride their bikes anywhere like we used to.but people dont care if my kid is riding his bike and they run them off the road..o well get outta my way kid

  4. Pablo Korona

    February 18, 2013 at 10:56 pm

    Um, I see and know many 20 somethings that are doing amazing things, or are poised to do so given their attitudes in life.

    just off the top of my head…

    Charlie Schweinler, Bill Houtkamp, Joseph Goral, Lauren Delemater, Dan Crevison, Jared & Britney, Greg Farnham, Dan McMahon…

    ok, I gotta get back to work

  5. Nick Jupin

    February 19, 2013 at 6:57 am


    There is plenty happening downtown that not nearly enough people come to experience. Those activities arent just drinking. There is live music, art galleries, specialty foods, the city market, theatre and so much more. People are just too happy to sit at home and complain how much Rockford sucks. Instead of sitting at home, start venturing out. Dont make purchases at large franchise or box stores, rather spend where the money will stay locally. It takes a strong local economy to make changes, not just people in office. Those elected officialscan only change what they have money to change. As for your comment about drinking and driving, there has been an option for that for 2 years. When i was 27, I started Designated Drivers of Illinois. We get thousands of people home safe every year with thier cars. There are also taxis, I also own Forest City Cab, a clean flat rate alternative to the other local cabs. In summary, people need to quit being lame and go explore.

  6. Jared

    February 19, 2013 at 9:42 pm

    I’ve spent the last 8 years organizing events for people to participate in, almost 100% geared towards the 30-and-under crowd. I’ve got a Lousy Bowlers’ League, I get people together for local kickball and dodgeball tournaments, I rent courts at ISC for a volleyball league, I rent out an indoor field at Victory Sports during the Winter for pickup Ultimate Frisbee (and free outdoor fields during non-Winter)… These things are not for everybody, but I’m really glad when people are willing to give it a try and even stick with it despite not having learned the skills yet. And it is particularly difficult to find female players (when the kickball / dodgeball / volleyball require minimums). I do what I can.

  7. Andy Whorehall

    February 20, 2013 at 8:35 pm

    There’s some vast truth to what Chris is reaching for response on; it can be said there’s a lack of 30 -30 somethings, and 40 and up as well. I see as much complacency from deadbeats my own age as I do from the 20 somethings and deadweight 40 year olds protecting their own interests.

    However; there’s something more relevant to the 20 somethings that the older generations aren’t paying close enough attention to. This is a generation that bleeds into the economic slide at a relevant time in America and Rockford’s history. They only know what it means to be in the slide already unless they come from some rare fortunate resources (wealthy parents, etc.).

    The rare, few, 20 somethings that are mentioned in this string of comments come with “cliffnotes” and need basic business ethics courses ASAP if they want to make a natural change that’s far removed from lobbying for economic dev. grants at the expense of the community–which is, afterall, the Rockford way no one likes to talk about.

    But all these do-gooders around town doing the talk and no walk with no work to show for much of it, no progress, no jobs, no change will argue otherwise because this is a know it all, shun the truth, town. The truth is libel in this town.

    Education is good for everyone but Rockford has been taking the high road around it since forcing NIU out to DeKalb. This is what we do best, and the smarter 20 somethings should leave as soon as they can to have a shot of surviving in this cruel, corrupt world, or stay here and pretend all is going to be ok. It’s not–math. Illinois is in trouble, period. The time to get out is now. Every business that jumps ship to Wisconsin and elsewhere is making a smart, economic decision to survive now and have a chance later, too.


    Most 20-somethings have no idea what it means to have a FT job–or seek one that includes in many to most cases– health insurance, incentives to work harder, raises, promotions, the ideas that previous generations had a taste of. They only know layoffs for hard work.

    They are being lured at an earlier age to not attend standardized higher education systems because of corporate downsizing on experienced educated workers in exchange for cheaper, younger labor.

    Think hard when you hear scumbags in suits within our government and business sectors tell the public and media that they have jobs to fill that they can’t find qualified people for. LIES. Gov. Quinn did so recently: 140k state jobs they can’t find people to fill with. LIES. Plenty of qualified, driven young people AND educated, experienced older workers who have aptitude to learn and a desire to work. The truth is they can’t fill the positions because experienced educated workers are finally saying “no thank you, I quit” to welfare-wage jobs that offer no growth, no learning curve and no future for being in IL altogether.

    There’s a much larger problem affecting a very disenchanted 20-something generation. Our leaders are liars and can’t do basic f*&^%$g math to save their soul let alone their own employees and a middle class that’s been bludgeoned by poor leadership on all fronts, state and federal, for decades now.

    Why would the 20-somethings care? They have grown up thinking this sort of behavior by business and government leaders is normal. We made them that way, and it’s going to be worse with the generation after them.

    Very few of them have the capacity or know-how to get angry about anything–and anger is good when it used in taste and control to all you do-gooders who think being nice and positivity is the way to go in this country during tough times. Do you think the Vietnam protesters were nice? Remember when rock and roll wasn’t nice? Remember when artists and writers could yell without being banned from society’s inner circle and the media? Do you think the civil rights movement was nice? Do you think nice works in this country? No. Y’all got tons of cultural and history lessons to take, and soon.

    Everyone’s so far up their own proud poop shooter with pretending to be nice these days that the know-how to get anyone’s attention to make change happen, now, is lost on the younger desensitized generations.

    They care about the next hulu and netflix stream, along with an xbox or ps3 binge they can fit in til dawn because they believe there’s nothing to work for–and that’s about it.

    Rockford’s youth is out to lunch and I’m with them because our leaders our corrupt, greedy, out-of-touch, corrupt liars who don’t like facing the truth. Everyone in Rockford seems to be afraid of facing the awful truth as well, getting angry, stop pretending, getting loud, demanding answers, stop being nice–and that is the only way to make things better.

    Good luck, America, and good night, Rockford, Illinois.


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